Apr 27, 2020
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
Like most of the world, I've been reading different stories about the current crisis. Various news outlets and social media present very different views of happenings. What I know is things are not the same as they were a few months ago. We don't really know what the future holds. All we know is it won't be the same.
Some discuss the fact that we have 30,000 - 40,000 deaths a year from the flu, and no one talks about it. And yes, we've only had 50,000 COVID 19 deaths...so far...in seven weeks. But we are far from over before COVID 19 decides to quit finding its victims in this first wave. This novel coronavirus is not typical flu. We will lose a lot more people around the world, no matter what we do.
The news about our economy is also real, though. The longer we keep our businesses closed, the more desperate we will become. Job loss. Government debt stacking up to recession and possibly depression levels. Fear and anxiety are growing with every passing day.
How do we handle it all? Let me share some words Peter wrote in a letter to new Christians facing the wrath of the Roman emperor looking to extinguish any religion that did not recognize him as part of its pantheon of gods.
If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.
He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:17-23
This new Christian faith faced the possibility of extinction. The Roman government saw mystic religions as a threat to their authority. They deemed Christianity, Judaism, and many other religions of the day as mystics and wanted them out of the way. We see a glimpse of the Roman brutality from the crucifixion, the games in the Colosseum, the blood lust that permeated the nation. And that blood lust pointed to these new Christian believers.
The early church by this time began to meet privately in homes, caves, catacombs, out of the way places to avoid the eyes of the Roman army. The church grew under heavy persecution. But as you can imagine, the growth came at a price. The church felt grief at the loss of some of its members. And the deaths occurred quickly and brutally—torturous deaths as spectacles for the pagan Roman authorities.
Families mourned the deaths, but often could not be present, and many could not bury their loved ones properly, or they would suffer the same fate. The church gathered in small groups to encourage each other, but they could not meet openly, for fear of discovery, and summary execution.
It reminds me a lot of what is happening today. We don't have the persecution in this country that the early Christians had. But we find ourselves isolated from each other. Some of our friends, neighbors, and family members find themselves alone in hospitals fighting a disease about which we know very little.
We hide behind closed doors and separate ourselves to avoid the reach of the disease as much as the early Christians hid themselves to avoid the Roman soldiers. We don't have answers for the reason this plague has come upon the world, but we see the suffering that so many must endure.
Death touches so many households, and when it does, the victims face it alone. Those left behind then grieve alone. The comfort we usually find in the relationships we build in our lifetime are not there to wrap arms around us. It seems we must suffer alone.
Yet we don't. We are fortunate to live in an age in which technology joins us. We can reach out and engage others through social media that can also be such a detriment in our lives if we do not use it carefully. Churches and individuals are finding new ways to use the media plagued by bullies, disreputable characters, child molesters, pornography, the list is endless. But that same media can be used by God for good. We can turn it around and spread the message of Jesus to those who might never come through the door of a church. But they will listen to an interesting discussion or podcast. They will spend time exploring ideas that will help them through life's journey. People will cling to rays of hope in times like these that appear hopeless on the outside.
The church will not be the same when this is over. Already, church leaders discuss what the next generation of church will look. Many will be afraid to come indoors and sit shoulder to shoulder as we have in the past. The risk of spreading an uncontained virus is too high. Limiting attendance, seating by families and spreading them out, conducting multiple services to accommodate the number of people desiring to come, escorts from the entrance to seats to the exit, monitors to ensure separation safety. We don't know what church will look like in the next months, but it will not be what it was in January and February.
It's an excellent time to think about what church means and the mission of the church. What did Peter tell the church in his letter? Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. I think that means more than lip service. It's more than words. It means letting God use our hands and feet to demonstrate his love to a community desperate for hope in these trying times. Now is the best time to exercise that love. Show someone you really care about them - today.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked NIV are taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV): Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™. Used by permission of Zondervan